This series will cover a quick trip out to LAX. The ticket was purchased for $247 roundtrip in Y. UA was a little bit more expensive at $270 and I didn’t check WN(ex-HOU)/NK’s fares. This route is heavily monopolized by UA, who operates 10+ flights per day IAH-LAX mainly on wide-bodies (internationally-configured B789s are no strangers to this route). AA has more modest operations, with 3x daily service on ERJs operated by Compass Airlines (American Eagle). For the outbound, I picked the early morning flight that would get me into LAX by 9am. Returning, I picked the afternoon flight to get back to IAH at a reasonable hour. The flights were upgraded from Y to F using six 500-mile upgrades, which both cleared 72-hours prior to departure. This leaves a very simple routing:
This report will cover the return segment from Los Angeles to Houston, which turned out to be a tale of two reports since this flight was nothing like the outbound flight. At the end, there will be a spotting bonus from LAX’s Imperial Hill.
I arrived to LAX by car at 12:30 after spotting at Imperial Hill.
I returned my car and took the shuttle back to the airport arriving at Terminal 4 since my flight was departing from the Remote Terminal. There is a “Premium” entrance for AA that leads directly to the Priority check-in area (Flagship check-in is also over there).
The check-in lobby. You can already see the really long security line upstairs.
A quick stops at the FIDS.
The AA logo at the entrance to the Priority AAccess line. Security was slow and took about 15 minutes to clear. The normal line was even longer so once again I’m glad I have status.
Reaching airside, an AA A319 out the window.
The entrance to Terminal 4 is adorned with this old-school AA logo.
Inside of Terminal 4. The Admiral’s Club is upstairs in those windows.
The shuttle buses to the Remote Terminal are located downstairs.
The buses leave frequently so getting on isn’t difficult.
Some spotting from the bus.
UA B772 in *A special livery.
Reaching the Remote Terminal, my gate (44E) is located straight ahead.
My ERJ waiting outside.
American Airlines, AA 5934 Equipment: Embraer ERJ-175 [N215NN, delivered September 2015] Departure: 14:25 (ATD: 14:36) Arrival: 19:42 (ATA: 19:22) Flight time: 2:46
Right when my flight started boarding, the flight at the adjacent gate started to deplane. So I felt like a salmon swimming upstream trying to get to my gate as the flight from Tuscon was deplaning.
Confirming our aircraft type and operator.
A silent welcome on board. He kind of gave me a head nod as I turned into the cabin. My seat for this flight. I had picked 3F since the seat next to it was empty at check-in, but last minute upgrades filled the cabin to 12/12 load so I should have kept 4A.
Sitting down, my eyes are immediately drawn to this bright color in the seatback pocket. Trash… Seriously, how can you miss this? Pitiful cabin cleaning at a hub. If the trash was hidden in the bottom of the seatback pocket, I’d care less, but this was in plain sight.
Standard seatpitch in F.
The FA came by for PDB. I asked if it was open bar. He said “sure,” so it will be a gin and tonic.
I’m probably the only weird person that brings personal slippers onto the plane. We’ll be sporting NH today.
View of the cabin as the front door is closed on time. My seatmate was sporting a Chinese passport so must have just connected in LAX and was quickly fast asleep for the entire flight.
The taxi out takes us past our twins.
Fashionable cars are all over LA.
As we approach the runway, an AS B737 in “Portland Timbers” special livery lands.
We quickly are on our way as we go soaring over LAX Terminal 5 (DL). The SQ A388 is taking off on the parallel runway.
TBIT. The DY B788 looks so tiny next to all of the A380s and B77Ws.
AA and NZ B77Ws at remote stands.
More heavies at remote stands as the beach is in sight.
This is when the person in front of me inexplicitly throws his seat in full recline and hits me in the head as I’m taking pictures out the window.
Iconic LAX departure shot of Venice and Santa Monica.
We rotate to the left to make a U-turn towards the east on this rainy day.
Seatback contents (trash omitted).
Interesting that there are different covers of American Way each month. This one is also advertising Belize, but the cover is different from the previous flight.
Beverage listing for those wondering.
Domestic route map.
Right armrest with recline button and tray table.
The blanket that is pre-placed in the seat.
Drink service is done after we level off. Tea for me. This is when things started to smell suspicious.
Hmm, this was followed by the snack basket. This is when that suspicious smell turned into a rotten, moldy smell. This flight was listed as “Lunch” on the website. The flight is more than 2 hours in length and during the meal times, so there is absolutely no reason for no catering on this flight.
Here is a cursory search on AA's website of this flight indicating the meal.
What are the odds, I look out the window and see this UA plane racing us to IAH. I bet they have meals…
No IFE on the E-Jets, but WiFi lets you track the flight.
It was cloudy for most of the flight, but occasionally some pockets opened up in Arizona and I could see some desert.
A trip up to the lavatory, which was very clean.
The FA spent almost the entire flight sitting in his jumpseat staring at us. We only had the one pass of the snack basket and drinks were never proposed again. This guy stood in the aisle for about 30 minutes mid-flight for no reason.
With a complete lack of in-flight service, I turned to the window for some entertainment. Luckily, I was able to catch 4 air-to-airs with AA aircraft during a 30-minute window. We must have been flying along a flight path out of DFW towards the west coast.
The sun began to set as we approached Austin.
Approach into IAH from the west.
We touch down 20 minutes early. As we taxi by Terminal D, I can see the CA B77W in *A special livery parked at a remote stand.
TK B77W getting ready for service to IST.
The pilots announce we will be arriving at Gate A29, but we pull into Gate A30.
Famished, I try and get off this plane as quick as possible. Bolt out of the airport and to my car to find some food, which brings an abrupt end to this series. Definitely a tale of two reports. I quickly want to forget this pitiful flight.
BONUS: Spotting at LAX.
I first went to the In-n-Out Burger, but it looked like all of the early morning heavies had already arrived so I only stayed for 15 minutes before leaving.
WS B737. (I apologize for clipping off the nose)
I next tried Imperial Hill, which is located on the other side of the airport. This is a small hill near TBIT that allows for great takeoff shots. A lot of heavies depart for Asia around 11:00-12:00 so figured it was a good time to join the crowds for spotting. Highly recommended spot if you have a car and will be near LAX.
CX B77W in the new livery.
Los Angeles - LAX
Houston - IAH
What can I say? A pretty bad flight with AA, nothing like the outbound flight. From the crew to the catering, nothing was good about this flight. I gave AA my feedback and they gave the typical canned response within 30 minutes despite my Platinum status. Clearly, UA should be the carrier of choice on this route. AA doesn’t seem to value a route between 2 of the 4 largest cities in the US.
Cabin comfort: Brand new and clean E-Jet. The seats are comfortable in a 1-2 configuration. I would rate this an “8.5” for comfort, but have to reduce the points based on a dirty cabin. Trash in plain sight is unacceptable.
Crew: I should have known from the lack of a welcome onboard. The FA in Y seemed much better than the F cabin FA. Our FA looked pretty frumpy and he just sat there the entire flight looking at the cabin. One snack basket pass on a 3-hour flight is a direct reflection of his performance.
Meal and catering: The lunch” I was promised on AA’s website was non-existent so the rating will be reflected as such. Open bar PDB is the only novelty of this flight. The rest was just pitiful: one drink and one pass of the snack basket.
Entertainment: No newspaper offered and the standard seatback literature. No IFE on 3+ hour flight. AA should give out tablets on long flights operated on regional jets.
On-time performance: Left on-time and landed 20-minutes early.
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